The number of premature deaths is at risk of rising by almost 6.5% due to the UK’s cost of living crisis, hit by persistent inflation, according to a study published on Monday in the journal BMJ.

This crisis “risks shortening lives and significantly widening the wealth and health gaps” between rich and poor in the UK, this study predicted.

The proportion of people dying under the age of 75 is expected to increase by almost 6.5%. The most disadvantaged households will be affected four times more than the most advantaged households, according to this research.

The researchers point to inflation, which is at “levels not seen since the 1970s.”

It rose to 6.7% year-on-year in August, down slightly from the previous month and the lowest level since February 2022, but remains the highest among G7 countries.

“Poorer households have paid the price, spending more of their income on energy, the cost of which has skyrocketed,” the study says.

The researchers assessed the impact of inflation on death rates in Scotland in 2022-23 by evaluating different scenarios, with or without government measures to tackle this cost of living crisis, including helping households struggling with energy costs.

With no measure of its decline, inflation could increase premature deaths by 5% in the least deprived areas and by 23% in the most deprived, the researchers predicted.

In contrast, with government measures, inflation leads to an increase in premature deaths of 2% and 8% respectively.

The researchers worked in Scotland, but say that “similar effects are likely” across the UK because they “modeled the impact of the measures taken by the UK government”.

“Our analysis helps demonstrate that the economy has an impact on population health,” the researchers conclude. “Since 2012, economic conditions in the UK have reduced life expectancy and widened health inequalities.”

Hunger has become ‘the new normal’

Studies showing the extent of the consequences of this crisis are multiplying.

According to a study by the Resolution Foundation think tank published in early September, Britons are at risk of experiencing within a few years the worst fall in living standards since “at least the 1950s”.

In June, a study by the University of Sussex showed that hunger has become “the new normal” for millions of Britons.